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Don’t Let Decision-Making Steal Your Time

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Don’t Let Decision-Making Steal Your Time

You know the scenario. You have to weigh up the pros and cons before making a decision. There may be uncertainties, worries, time factors and safety issues. Decisions have to be made in the office, the bedroom, the kitchen, and in the classroom, all day and every day. All these weigh on our minds as we try to decide if we should let our children play in a park, get the bus or walk, or ask the boss for some time off. If you are like, you spend far too much time in making decisions. Here are 6 practical ways to speed up the process. They also provide a fascinating insight into the whole decision-making process.

1. Try not to get analysis paralysis

You know the situation when you start to over-think the decision. You spend far too much time weighing up the ifs, buts, and what-ifs. One practical way to speed up all this is to set a deadline. You tell yourself that you have to make a decision in half-an-hour’s time, or slightly longer, if you prefer. This forces you to make a decision and you avoid unnecessary procrastination.

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2. Try to narrow down the issues

Write down what is making the decision so difficult. It may be that things like lack of motivation, peer pressure, and parental interference, are complicating the whole issue. Then spend some time thinking about your goals. Finally, think about

all the consequences of whatever decision you will make. shoesdecisions

    3. Try to build in failure

    We all make bad decisions. I can think back over my life and shudder at all the wrong turns I took and some pretty bad decisions I made. But, I was also able to learn from these. We should expect failure and learn from it. Once you know that a bad decision is a real possibility, it will help you speed up the decision-making process.

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    4. Try to recognize your cognitive bias and allow yourself to process and accept other points of view

    “Our brain accepts what the eyes see and our eye looks for whatever our brain wants.”- Daniel Gilbert

    The way we see the world subjectively is known in psychology as a cognitive bias. It affects our judgment and our decisions. This is very well explained in Daniel Gilbert’s book, Stumbling on Happiness. This type of cognitive bias can take many forms. One example is known as the confirmation bias. You may not be aware of it, but you are attracted to people who have similar views to yours. You visit websites and news sources which confirm your world view. The problem is that while this is comforting, you often ignore and dismiss views which are just as valid, but do not happen to fit in with your own tunnel vision of the world. The Internet has made this problem even worse because it is much easier to find larger quantities of people sharing our view, which in turn, reinforces it. When we have to decide on something, we are unaware of how much this confirmation bias is affecting our decision making. Being aware of our limited world view and seeking other opinions and experiences will help us to make more rational and less subjective decisions.

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    5. Try to save time by allowing the experiences of others to be a guideline as opposed to having to make your own mistakes repetitively

    Before you buy a certain make of car, you may want to ask about someone who has bought the same model. The person’s opinion and experience can save you time in coming to a decision. If you have to make a decision about which treatment option to take when you are ill, it is often helpful to seek out personal experiences from those who have had the same treatment. Researchers have shown how useful this is in helping to make a decision although they warn that it has to be balanced with factual information as well.

    6. Try to match your decision with your core values

     “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”- Mahatma Gandhi

    In the corporate world, many companies are committed to their core values such as being accountable, responsible, and ready for innovation. But how are these reflected in their business decisions? They will make sure that they are socially and environmentally responsible. On a personal level, this can help speed up your decision making, just as effectively. You are committed to honesty, punctuality, openness, and loyalty when selecting friends, partners, and business partners. Loyalty may be at the top of your list. You will have to make decisions about helping friends in need. You may have to defend them when they are criticized unfairly. You would never repeat gossip about them. Making decisions like these are easier because they match your core values. If you keep these 6 steps in mind, you will be able to spend less time on decision making and also be more relaxed about it.

    Featured photo credit: Decisions/ Martin Fisch via flickr.com

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    More by this author

    Robert Locke

    Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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    Published on September 21, 2021

    How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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    How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

    The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

    In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

    1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

    Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

    But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

    Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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    Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

    Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

    While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

    Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

    2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

    At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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    Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

    Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

    Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

    McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

    From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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    3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

    An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

    McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

    Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

    Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

    Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

    So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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    The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

    If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

    Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

    Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

    Reference

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